It’s starting to become a yearly tradition to spend a weekend in Dalarna. We love going at the end of summer, the temperatures are a bit cooler, the greens a bit more muted and everything feels a bit slower and more relaxed. It’s a great way to extend the feeling of summer and vacation.
Every year we’ve gone to a new place to explore it’s food, culture and nature. For this years weekend in Dalarna we decided to explore nature in and around Dala-Floda, where I filmed a food styling & photography workshop years ago.
Where to Stay in Dalarna
We stayed at Snöå Bruk, a hotel about 34km west from Dala-Floda. This place blew us away as soon as we stepped out of the car. We were met by a little bridge, a river being still as glass and beautiful houses – everything surrounded by beautiful forests. This place is the perfect hub and base for outdoor activities. There’s great hiking close by, the staff can help you with trails and maps and you can rent bikes through the hotel as well. After a long day outside this is a great place to come back to for relaxation and good food.
We lived in that red house just by the water and it was very calm and quiet. In the morning we walked across the grass, following the river down to the main building for breakfast.
Hiking in Dalarna
For our first day here we decided to head to the lake Storsjön located less then 5 minutes north of the hotel. There’s a lovely 9km trail called Storsjön Runt that goes around it. If you drive here you can park up by the lake near Ryggåsstugan, a café and bakery located on a small point at the tip of the lake.
The trail starts right by the café – and this is also where it ends which is very rewarding; keep on reading and you’ll understand why!
We head in to the forest, keeping the lake on our left and we don’t take many steps before we stop to look at mushrooms – I have a goal this fall to learn more about foraging for edible mushrooms!
The first part of the trail goes through this dense forest covered in a deep, green moss. After a little while it comes out onto a wider gravel path that you follow for about 1km and then you turn left down over a beautiful wooden bridge and back into the forest again. It’s easy to keep track on the trail as it’s marked with orange signs and markers on the trees.
After a while we came across a natural “bridge” or pathway made by the roots of the trees. I don’t know if it’s natural or manmade, but my hope is that nature constructed this on her own. It’s one of my favourite spots along the trail as it was quite unique.
The trail is very well marked the entire way and we continued to enjoy hiking along in the forest, following the orange markers. There are a few spots though where the path splits and smaller paths are mark leading left towards the lake. In most of those cases they led to little peninsulas with a good view or seating area where you could sit and take a rest or have a snack.
Overall the rule is to keep to the right path when there’s a divide, but if you have Naturkartan on your phone you can easily check it at the junctions to make sure you stay on the right path.
The trail continues over a clear cut past a small forest lake called Hanstjärn before it moves into the forest for a little bit again. After following the trail for a bit you’ll reach Storsjöns most northern part and here the trail will take you out on a wide gravel path. You only stay on that for a few meters before you turn left back into the forest again. This is just to lead you around some privately owned cabins.
You’re now on the west side of the lake and this is where most of the marshland is, and so it gets quite wet here. Some parts have boardwalks but other’s don’t. There was one spot where the trail crosses a mire but there were no boardwalks so we turned around and walked back just a few meters and onto the wider bike trail that also goes around the lake. We followed that for a bit instead to circumvent the mire which I can highly recommend doing.
Wear waterproof shoes that are mid to high cut. Since you’re walking by a lake and this area has some marshlands it can be rather wet in certain sections.
As you come back down around the lake you’ll see the café where you started, just peacefully nestled in amongst the trees, its reflection still in the water.
Your legs might be tired, feet a bit sore and your body feeling heavy but content as it usually does after a good hike. Your body as well as your mind needs to rest and let all the impressions along the way sink in.
What better way to relax, wind down and refuel at the same time? By visiting the café and bakery where you started of course!
Lunch at Café Ryggåsstugan
This café is just such a magical oasis. The timbered cabin is beautiful and it is so tranquil to sit down by the water. The food here is really good, and so is their fika and bread. They always have sandwiches, a weekly dish and some salads. There are options for take away too and they bake bread every day.
That you arrive back here after hiking around the lake really is perfect. Resting down by the water and refuelling with their excellent food is just what a tired hiker needs!
Dinner at Snöå Bruk
We get our dirty hiking boots off, change into clean clothes and wind down in our room with a local beer before it’s time for dinner at the hotel. The cozy, relaxing vibe of this weekend is quite engrained in our bones at this point and we find that we’ve really slowed down at this point.
Dinner at the hotel is just excellent. It’s a lovely three course dinner where the staff recommended excellent beer & wine pairings and stayed and chatted with us at the table about why wine and certain flavours go so well together, the hiking in the area and their own passions. The chef is actually a graphic designer that just loves to cook! And you can tell cause oh boy was it ever well made and delicious.
Evening paddle with Next Step Nature
After dinner we met up with Jens from Next Step Nature and once again we found ourselves walking up towards the lake. Jens does a lot of guided outdoor tours in the area both hiking, biking and paddling and so we went out with a canoe and a kayak to enjoy the sunset.
The day could not have ended in a better way. The water was so still and the sunset glowing in orange, purple and pink. It was such a relaxing paddle and we had great evening just gliding across the water next to Jens talking about nature tourism, how it’s been affected by covid, tourisms mark on nature and responsible tourism. It was so interesting!
After a good nights sleep we wake up to a slow Sunday morning with breakfast in the room. We had ordered it the day before and so the hotel had left a nice breakfast box for us in our fridge. When we were done eating we packed our things into the car, checked out and started heading back towards Dala-Floda. But our weekend was not over yet! It was time to meet up with Jens again for a slow hike through a nature reserve.
Guided forest hike
We met up with Jens in Dala-Floda and he told us he wanted to show us a place not many go to, rather than some of the most popular spots – tying back to our conversation during paddling about tourisms stress on nature. So we drove behind him through the forest to a nature reserve called Örjasänget that is located about 15km south of Dala-Floda.
This wasn’t so much a hike, as a slow meandering through the forest where we got to see everything through the eyes of Jens. He’s extremely knowledgeable and shared so much with us. We stopped to look at where Grouse dance as they mate, he pointed out where the common buzzards nest (we even saw some fresh bird droppings!), where Moose had left marks for mating as well as some historical remnants from when people used the forest to make charcoal.
There was a spot with a lot of very young spruce which Jens told us happens after they’ve had a fire there to make charcoal, and lo and behold – as we dug there we found remnants of coal in the ground!
Örjasänget is a nature reserve that was established in 2006 to protect and preserve the old forest as well as the mating spots for these animals. They’ve hung up fat in the trees to help the jay birds and there’s also a lot of wood peckers here.
We followed the path for a little bit but then left it and just followed Jens through this forest that he knows so well. I loved walking slowly through it and stopping to look at details in nature that I would have walked past otherwise. It had rained in the evening and night so everything was still damp and absolutely glowing!
The best part about our weekend here in Dalarna was the slow tempo, we could really take our time and if a hike took longer than planned, that was okay.
Jens is such a likeable person and a phenomenal guide, and it was so easy to just stay with him in the forest to keep learning. I was really happy we got to hang out with him some more and I cannot recommend contacting him enough if you want to learn about the nature in the area and wether you want to hike, bike, meander or paddle. I know he sometimes organises early morning trips to try and spot the Grouse, and sometimes he can be found biking around in the dark listening for wolves. What a guy!
The classic silvery white and black birch bark was no longer distinguishable.
Back out of the forest hours later we say goodbye to Jens, kind of knowing we’ll be back and that we’ll meet again. He drove off to scout another area in the forest and we headed back towards Dala-Floda. It was time to drive home but before that we needed to eat.
Our last stop on our weekend in Dalarna was at Hjort-Olars Café, a place we’ve heard people travel far for. And we totally understand why. We’re yet again met with what seems like it’s own little oasis, an amazing café with a huge, lush garden. The line is long and there’s as many different kinds of fika as there are wasps buzzing around the sugary sweets.
We start with a sandwich where the ingredients are locally sources, followed by two types of fika to split since it was so hard to decide! As we’re enjoying resting our feet while munching on delicious baked goods we talk about our weekend, our highlights but also about Dalarna and it’s people.
It seems that no matter where we go people are incredibly kind and extremely passionate. There’s always the right people at the right place doing the right thing. Wether it be running a hotel, guiding people in nature or baking. They’re all very proud of their crafts and very good at working together. A lot of the small businesses tell us about other small businesses we should check out. Jens told us he’d done a paddle-fika in collaboration with Hjort-Olars café which sounds amazing!
And everywhere the history, art and culture seem very well preserved and taken care of. Dalarna has yet again won my heart and I know I will be back. I really like this yearly tradition we’ve got going.